Details Landscape art designs and installs beautiful gardens throughout Sonoma and Marin Counties, from Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma and Sonoma, to San Rafael, Novato and Mill Valley. We visit dozens of homes each year, meeting with homeowners with different yards, issues, configurations and budgets. Many of the requests we receive from homeowners is for relandscaping a garden that they tried to do themselves.
Anyone can go to Home Depot and buy plants, and anyone can dig a hole. Successful landscaping, however, involves not only selecting the right plant for the spot (size, sun/shade, soil requirements, frost hardiness), but putting together a palette of plants that look good together, and that will mature to an appropriate size and shape. We hear frequently “Oh the plant looked so cute when we bought it – we had no idea it would grow to be a ten foot by ten foot shrub”. So people end up with ‘jungles’.
At Details we like to mix heights, textures and bloom seasons, blending colorful foliage plants with softer grasses and groundcovers. We also avoid using too many showy feature plants together. If every plant is a showstopper, then nothing stands out.
A great example of the costliness of relandscaping, is the situation where the homeowner asks us to design and build a garden. After going through the entire process, we come up with a sketch and then bid the job for, say, twenty five thousand dollars. The homeowner decides he can do it cheaper himself, goes on the internet, watches a video on pouring concrete, goes to the local home improvement store to buy plants, and throws together a landscape as best he can for, let’s say, twenty thousand dollars. He takes lots of shortcuts, fails to amend the soil, and has no idea how tall or wide these plants will grow to, nor what conditions the plant will thrive in or fail in. He finishes with a layer of mulch and stands back admiring his handiwork.
Two or three years go by, and he sees the error of his way. Half the plants are dead, the patio is pitted and splotchy, and he is very unhappy with his landscaping. So he calls us back and asks us again to do his yard, three years later. Now it will cost him five thousand dollars to tear out what he has put in, material and labor costs have risen in the last three years, and now the job we originally bid for twenty five thousand dollars now costs thirty thousand dollars.
So he has already spent twenty thousand on his do-it-yourself project. Now he needs to spend five thousand to demo his yard to get down to bare dirt again, plus thirty thousand for his new landscape, for a total of fifty thousand. He could have done it right the first time for twenty five thousand and been enjoying a magnificent landscape for the past three years, watching his garden mature.
It certainly may cost more to have a professional landscaper design and build a garden than to do it yourself. But relandscaping a yard, and pulling out and replacing plants or jackammering out hardscape done poorly is surely an expensive proposition. Do it once – do it right!